Image by Me
I don't know why it took me so long to finally check out Oak Barrel Tavern, but I'm glad I finally did.
The City Paper and Charleston Scene have both profiled this joint already, the newest addition to Avondale nightlife. The signage outside says it all - "Craft Ales and Fine Wines." That is literally it -- no liquor, no food, just beer and wine.
I can't speak to the wine list, being both ignorant and disinterested, but the beer selection is a study in quality over quantity. Their six taps were pouring no slouches the night I visited, with a great coverage of styles from double IPA to porter to pale ale. Even a Westbrook selection was in the mix. The bottle list is the same story: not long, but nary a slot is wasted. They've got everything from one of my favorite American lagers, the stubby-bottled Full Sail Session, all the way to Ballast Point Sea Monster Imperial Stout (guaranteed not to last long). They offer bottles to-go as well, at a 25% discount.
Beyond the impressively terse beer list, the atmosphere is just right for relaxing with a pint and having actual conversations at a reasonable volume with other humans. The place is small, and therefore couldn't become overcrowded without violating some kind of fire code. The lighting was comfortably dim, and the door was left open to let the night air in. The tables are old barrels, and the pictures on the wall are all of barrels with beers perched on them. Simple and low key, but fun.
I'm not sure what kind of spell this place cast on me, but it was exactly what I was looking for. I anticipate becoming a "regular," in as much as my old-man laziness and misanthropy will allow.